TP4001 - Big Ideas in Theatre and Performance

What will I learn on this module?

This module introduces you to the ‘big ideas’ that drive the study of theatre and performance. This is inclusive of critical approaches to performance, class, gender, race, and queer theory in relation to practices such as acting, dance, direction, and stage design.
Drawing on examples of current and historical practices in commercial and fringe theatres, as well as performances that happen in the wider world, you will learn to articulate your own foundational approaches to critical thinking and performance analysis. The overall purpose of the module is to prepare you to ask big questions of your own practices, politics, and critical awareness as you progress through your studies. In this regard, the module feeds directly into a sister module in the second semester, which is focused on ‘urgent ideas’, as well as being the building blocks for your research and critical thinking skills that will be the foundation of your studies and future careers.

It is also a chance for you to find out about the research specialisms of the staff and become part of the Northumbria performance research community. Sessions will be led by members of the staff team to allow you an opportunity to engage directly with leading theatre and performance researchers.

How will I learn on this module?

This module taught through the format of lecture/seminar. In each session, the lecturer will share with your key ideas and concepts relating to different kinds of theatre and performance practice. The sessions will be delivered in varied ways; you won't only be listening to lecturers but also asked to try out ideas, to watch pieces of film and respond to a range of questions and provocations. It is an environment that encourages dialogue and debate, informed by your engagement with materials covered on the course. There will also be smaller group discussions with a tutor, where there is even more emphasis on contributions to discussions by individual students. The use of the e-learning portal (Blackboard) will be a key feature of the module; here you will find regularly updated course materials and readings which will be updated regularly throughout the year. Where appropriate and/or necessary lectures or seminars may be delivered online (for example via Blackboard Collaborate)

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your learning is supported in a number of ways throughout the module. The sessions themselves are structured in a way which is responsive to your needs; lecturers will explore ideas with you and ask you to affirm your understanding of them, and you will be given tasks in classes to which lecturers will provide feedback, helping you to measure for yourself your own progress on the module. A series of texts will be selected for you to read which will help you to navigate your way through the module, and these texts will be directly spoken to in classes so that your reading is supported. The module's assessments (oral presentation and essay) will be talked through with you in detail in classes, and there will be ample opportunity to speak with lecturers outside of these classes.

Beyond this, the module will make use of an e-Reading List, linking you to core readings, websites and online video material which can help you develop appropriate knowledge and understanding. Using the virtual learning environment, Blackboard, you will have access to module information and resources 24/7. Where appropriate sessions may be recorded and uploaded to Blackboard for future consultation. Written assessment feedback will be provided within 20 working days of summative assignment submission. Access to library facilities is available 24-7 all year round.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
? Understand the strengths and limits of select ‘big ideas’ that drive the study and practice of theatre & performance

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
? Demonstrate an ability to engage in critical reflection on theatre and performance practices using a range of sources.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
? Evidence a curiosity in considering differing social and cultural perspectives in the development of an argument.

How will I be assessed?

500-word tutorial
You will have a 1-to-1 tutorial with your tutor to share a draft 500 words for your essay. This will act as feedforward and is designed to offer you the chance to get informal feedback on your technical writing skills.

Summative (100%)
Essay (2000 words). Based on set questions provided by the module convenor, this essay asks you to engage with a ‘big idea’ and relate it to an example of theatre and performance.





Module abstract

What are the signature concepts that theatre and performance makers draw upon when making performance? What are the big ideas and questions that practitioners and scholars are confronting in the 21st century? This module is concerned with the ‘big ideas’ that form the basis for theatre and performance practices and that help to articulate the social, cultural and political importance of those practices. Through a series of lectures and seminars we will be working with you to research a range of theatre topics, key practitioners and performance makers. You will have the opportunity to develop and contribute ideas of your own, and test these ideas out through discussion, presentation and writing. We will be investigating some of the most significant developments in current theatre and performance practice, and looking more generally at the ways in which these practices shape, and are shaped by, different cultures.

Course info

UCAS Code W405

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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